Mansplanations on the Hot Topic of “White Girls”

It’s not a good season to be a “white girl” on the internet these days…

For me, it all started with the whole: To (All) the White Girls Who Didn’t Get Into The College Of Their Dreams

A thought-provoking take on this FB post: Sheryl Sandberg Successfully Makes SF Plane Crash About Herself

Another one: Sheryl Sandberg Should Know Better Than to Ask Interns to Work for Free

Then came: The dumb white chick vs creepy Indian lecher debate

Which brings us to the 90 message long post on my Facebook wall. I posted the original article about University of Chicago student who wrote about her horrifying experiences abroad because I thought it was a worthy read. Shortly after, I posted an article about the  white-woman-as-victim narrative, b/c it was along the theme of “privileged white girls are self-centered” conversations going on.

Anyhow, I’m not going to recapture that whole discussion. I’ll just say that most of my FB friends are male, white, well-intentioned, and somewhat but not entirely aware of “mansplaining.” Here’s my conclusion from all of that:

In conclusion, Lakshmi’s article was not about blaming RoseChasm for the actions of her predators.. It’s more about white-privilege. Alexandra was responding to issues in regards to race. The discussion overall is great, but we’re coming from different positions, and it would be great to understand one another better.

First, I think it’s not optimal to expect the minority position to have to educate or convince the more prominent/privileged one. It’s easier for the dominant group to try to understand the minority.

Second, you guys need to realize that you’re coming from a very male way of thinking. In CS, i’m in a world where logic rules everything and emotions are essentially a waste of time. Obviously, Alexandra, the scholar, does not use tumblr gifs to make arguments although, it IS a powerful tool when trying to connect with people– just look at TED talks for instance.

I’m not going to say Alexandra was angry.. I’m not even going to say she’s emotional, b/c those words, even though they aren’t negative things imply negative things in our male world. I’m going to say that she spoke with passion, sass, and attitude, and that those emotions are meaningful– they’re manifestations of a very complex social situation in our world.

I’ve learned I have to suppress my emotions due to my work environment, but people shouldn’t have to do that. As a woman, for example, that “fire” or “passion” is seen as inferior. So, the real question is, is it undignified or uncivilized to not think or talk like me or like you? Do we really give ourselves that much credit to know those absolutes?

Anyhow, of course Alexandra didn’t get-with-the-program and get on your level of communication. She has her own, and in this dialogue she decided she wasn’t going to get her point across. Was it the most optimal or graceful approach to showing you her perspective?– no. The question really is, is it entirely her responsibility to educate you on her point of view, or is some of that responsibility yours and mine to try and understand someone else’s position?

My response isn’t in regards to who’s points were right or wrong, it’s to suggest that our expectations need to be reevaluated.

Besides enjoying the opportunity to think deeper about issues, I also enjoyed having the whole #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen brought to my attention. Here’s a great video about that. It’s a great use of social media to identify what may have been a less effable social issue.

Soon after, we have the whole “Miley Cyrus, Instigator or Victim?” discussion. Whatever fuels the fire for discussion, right? I mean, the crisis of slut-shamed American pop stars is much more digestible than caring about the severe sexual injustices that happen in other parts of the world.

For a sobering read:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-place-women-go-to-get-raped-012378-v20n8

For everyone else:

http://www.businessinsider.com/amanda-rosenberg-of-google-2013-8

miley-cyrus-vma-performance-1024x576

These conversations hopefully sharpen all irons involved, but it’s really apparent that as progressive as we are, the Jesus take on forgiveness and selflessness is where things are headed and clearly not where we’re currently at.

… all i can say is that it’s a chasm that’s slowly being reconciled. It’s messy, but it’s our mess. Lots of factors and lots of variables. One person may see rudeness and dogmatism, and another may look and see a great deal of pain… We’re all victims, which means you are 100% entitled to take offense to being called “white boy.” My question is, where do we go from here? (not that we need to all be holding hands in the process).

On one hand, you all could come to mutual understanding. On the other hand, Alexandra can try to understand where everyone else is coming from. On the third hand (who has 3 hands?!!), I just felt that the majority is in the more optimal position to really understand the minority.

That’s nice to extend the olive branch. I think allowing things to combust, relieves a lot of tension, and there’s just a lot of pain in the world. Sometimes we become the casualty of complicated circumstances. I mean, it’s not my fault I’m not a black woman, so I don’t really understand what that’s like, just like it’s not my fault that i’m not a white man.

Are we just wasting our time then? No, I think unjustly feeling attacked and heckled is as much a product of our broken world as it is the product of a person’s action against us. And the only way to avoid it is to be an island.

It makes me sad that you feel like you couldn’t post, and perhaps belittled/misunderstood. You don’t have to always put yourself out there, but I think your transparency is sobering and good… so you should stay that way.

The fewer islands, the better, but it’s going to take a lot of bridges. Unfortunately, bridges are usually what get burned (sometimes on both ends!).

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